Lifestyle Changes to Help Alleviate Circadian Rhythm Disorders
Circadian rhythms are the body’s way of scheduling daily activities such as eating, waking, and sleeping. These events are executed with the help of hormones that are released from the brain and from other parts of the body. And, to do these effectively, circadian rhythms are synchronized with nature’s day-and-night cycle. Let’s take the hormone melatonin as an example. This is a sleep-inducing hormone but it is not usually released during the waking hours because light coming from the sun blocks it. When the sun sets and light from the surroundings becomes dimmer, melatonin is released, signaling the body that it is time for bed.
Circadian rhythms help maintain the health of the body. They assure that the body gets enough food and rest to be able to function properly. However, these rhythms can be out of sync too, due to the production of hormones and other chemicals at the wrong time of the day, or the amount released may be too little to have a significant effect on the body. Circadian rhythm disorders can also be caused by changes in time zone and work schedule, certain medications, illnesses, and pregnancy. These disorders can upset a person’s moods and sleep-wake cycle, which, in turn, may greatly affect his or her life.
Reset your circadian rhythm by making your bedroom comfortable.
Numerous therapies can be employed to help reset circadian rhythms that have gone haywire and these involve making some lifestyle changes and cleaning up your sleep habits.
- Establish a regular time for sleeping and waking up. This can do a great job in normalizing your circadian rhythm.
- Make your bedroom environment comfortable and relaxing. Dim the lights and have soft and smooth bed covers and pillow cases. Avoid watching television or using the computer during bedtime because the light coming from them can stimulate your brain and make it hard for you to fall asleep.
- Avoid doing paperwork or other work-related things on your bed in order to condition your mind that going to bed means going to sleep.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks in the afternoon and on hours close to bedtime. Caffeine enters the bloodstream 30 minutes after its consumption and it stimulates the nervous system. Its half-life is 6 hours which means that when you consume 200 mg of caffeine at 5 PM, 100 mg is still present in your system by 11 PM, and this can prevent you from dozing off.
- Exercise regularly in the morning or in the afternoon. Exercising stimulates the release of the hormone serotonin which helps relieve stress and anxiety. But, refrain from exercising on hours close to bedtime because it increases your heart rate and blood pressure, stimulating your body and preventing you from falling asleep.
- Skip your naps as these can disrupt your sleep-wake cycle.
- Try aromatherapy to calm your mind and body. Pour aromatic oils into your bath water and massage some onto your skin. Some of the most popular aromatic herbs include lavender, chamomile, passionflower, and St. John’s Wort.